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Published: Tuesday, 11/26/2013 - Updated: 8 months ago

UM WOLVERINES FOOTBALL

Slow sales could have UM seeing red

Ohio State fans expected to scoop up tickets

BY RACHEL LENZI
BLADE SPORTS WRITER
University of Michigan marching band taking the field this year. Wolverines fans may face strongest-ever minority of OSU fans present for The Game this Saturday. University of Michigan marching band taking the field this year. Wolverines fans may face strongest-ever minority of OSU fans present for The Game this Saturday.
BLADE/ANDY MORRISON Enlarge

ANN ARBOR — There were nearly 6,000 tickets to The Game on the secondary market at the start of the week, which might seem like a small fraction of a football facility that seats nearly 20 times that number of fans, but those empty seats could be filled by fans of the team that Michigan’s Brady Hoke colloquially refers to as “Ohio.”

The third-year Michigan coach acknowledges that it would be disappointing to see Ohio State fans, swathed in red, filling up a significant part of a stadium that seats nearly 110,000.

But he knows it’s also a reality of being a sports fan.

“People are fickle,” Hoke said. “That’s just the way it is. That’s the world we live in.”

Historically, tickets for The Game have been a commodity. But given that thousands of tickets are still available, those who purchased tickets for The Game nearly four months ago for top dollar may have some buyer’s remorse, whether it’s because of Michigan’s recent tailspin — Michigan has lost four of its last six games — or because of the mere fact that they can purchase single tickets for at least $100 cheaper, either through ticket brokers, StubHub, or even through the University of Michigan.

Joel Schwartz, the owner of Big Time Worldwide, a ticket broker based in Southfield, Mich., attributes this year’s unusual glut of tickets directly to supply and demand.

“When your team wins, more people want to go to the game and less people want to sell those tickets,” Schwartz said. “When your team’s losing, people don’t want to go. There’s not a lot of demand right now.”

As of late Tuesday, about 5,700 tickets were available for Saturday’s game on StubHub.com, starting as low as $65. StubHub has a ticket-exchange and resale partnership with Michigan.

Michigan’s Web site, mgoblue.com, is also offering single tickets for Saturday’s game. A Michigan spokesman said in an email to The Blade that about 410 tickets remained as of late Tuesday. 

Those start at $115 — half of the original value of the lowest ticket price. 

In fact, many paid top dollar when Michigan put single-game tickets on sale at the end of July.

Many expect those remaining tickets to be snapped up by Ohio State fans. Buckeyes coach Urban Meyer noted overwhelming fan turnout at California and Northwestern for his team and said it means a “tremendous amount” to have that turnout on the road.

“I’ll tell you what, I’ve witnessed some things this year I have not seen before,” Meyer said of how OSU fans have traveled this season.

“I imagine it’s going to be a lot more difficult this time around, but it means a lot for us.”

Face value for tickets to The Game began at $230 per ticket as part of Michigan’s dynamic pricing plan, which put a higher premium cost on tickets for games against Notre Dame, Nebraska, and Ohio State.

Those higher costs, Schwartz said, aren’t what the average fan pays for a seat at Michigan Stadium, which he said typically averages $95 a game.

“Michigan scalped them, for better or for worse,” Schwartz said. “They put up the extra seats instead of giving them to boosters, students, faculty, and donors, put them up for the highest bidder and asked for the highest price.”

Through the season, the price of an Ohio State-Michigan ticket on the secondary market fluctuated.

Schwartz said single tickets in July began at $150 and topped out at $400.

When Michigan beat Notre Dame in September, single tickets ranged from $250 to $750. Over the last two weeks, single tickets dropped to as low as $100.

“The market goes up and down, and it depends on who wins and who loses,” Schwartz said.

Ohio State has been winning. Michigan hasn’t.

Does Schwartz anticipate a demand for Ohio State-Michigan tickets in the final days before The Game?

“Not really,” he said.

Contact Rachel Lenzi at: rlenzi@theblade.com, 419-724-6510, or on Twitter @RLenziBlade.



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